The news arrives just over a week after the executive hoped to calm fears ahead of Macworld by revealing a hormone imbalance as a principle factor in his weight loss throughout 2008.
The surprise revelation is meant to dampen concerns but indirectly corroborates technology blog rumors that Jobs' health was the true reason for the exit, with no guarantees in place that he would present in the future.
Jobs and his company have engineered a near-complete turnaround in their respective approaches to the CEO's health versus most of 2008. Since appearing frail at the WWDC keynote in June, the co-founder and those speaking on his behalf have repeatedly insisted that his condition is a "private matter" and, until December, were only willing to divulge information through an off-the-record phone call to a New York Times journalist.
While sudden and public, however, a health-related break from Apple business isn't uncharacteristic for Jobs. After revealing that he had undergone successful surgery for his pancreatic cancer in 2004, the company head took a month off to recover with Cook again taking the reins.
The full text of Jobs' Wednesday email follows:
I am sure all of you saw my letter last week sharing something very personal with the Apple community. Unfortunately, the curiosity over my personal health continues to be a distraction not only for me and my family, but everyone else at Apple as well. In addition, during the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought.
In order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health, and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products, I have decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June.
I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for Apple's day to day operations, and I know he and the rest of the executive management team will do a great job. As CEO, I plan to remain involved in major strategic decisions while I am out. Our board of directors fully supports this plan.
I look forward to seeing all of you this summer.
Readers are invited to discuss this matter in our forums.